I Competed in my First Horse Show & It Was Everything

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with horses. I was your typical “horse girl:” I had a large herd of Breyer horses adorning the shelves in my bedroom, I obsessively watched TV shows like The Saddle Club, and I galloped (yes, galloped) around the playground instead of running like a normal child. 

Horses also became the focal point of art and I have a library’s worth of sketchbooks filled strictly with my drawings of them. I used to love going to my uncle’s barn and riding around the pens, especially on a bay gelding named Watiki. However, the older I got, the more I became fascinated with the idea of horses and everything that came with owning one more so than I did the actual horse.

By the time I reached high school, I outgrew the whole “horse girl” aspect (thank God) and found new things to attach my attention to. The love of the equine was still in my heart, but limited my expressions of affection to paintings and pastel pieces. I also occasionally went out with my best friend to visit her horse, rode on one of the trail rides offered by Fort Robinson State Park and even volunteered for a horse therapy program for a couple of summers, but deep down, that awkward horse girl still cried out for more.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college (aka, right now) and I was still searching for something, anything, that would allow me to interact and learn more about one of my favorite animals. I remember vaguely hearing about an Equestrian Team at UW but didn’t look into it, thinking it was specifically for equine science majors or students who actually had their own horse. However, come the beginning of the fall semester, I decided to look into the club and see about joining. Thus began my journey into becoming a legitimate equestrian and if I’m being honest, I was both terrified and exhilarated at the thought. Terrified by the thought of possibly embarrassing myself and exhilarated at the thought of spending my Tuesdays riding western.

Any and all fears that I held upon joining the equestrian team were quickly washed away by the amazing and helpful team leaders who wanted nothing more than to help me become a better rider. Because of them and the team’s awesome trainer, I’ve been able to improve upon horsemanship skills, leading me to the entire point of this article: my first show. 

While the team travels to various shows, I decided to hold back until I was sure that I was ready. This led me to compete at the show hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The drive to Lincoln was long, as was the morning of the show, but I had my new cowboy hat and was anxious to get in the ring. My first, I need to admit, was definitely not my best. I was assigned a gelding named Jasper (shown above) and was a bit distracted by my over-eagerness to ride. My second ride, however, was a lot better and I placed sixth in my class while riding a beautiful palomino named Apollo (shoutout to UNL for having amazing horses).

Overall, my first show was humbling, exciting, and quite memorable. I spent some quality time with my fellow team members, rode some amazing horses, and got a ribbon in the end. For me, being a member of the UW Equestrian Team is literally the what dreams are made of and I look forward to what next semester and the next few years will bring for me!